Saturday, March 21, 2015

What Might've Been: Hello, Larry (1979)

For all we know, McLean Stevenson may have made the biggest career blunder just by leaving M*A*S*H.

None of Stevenson's series had any staying power. The closest thing to a hit was Hello, Larry, which was a mid-season replacement series that launched in the winter of 1979. Writer-producers Dick Bensfield & Perry Grant were also working on One Day at a Time around the same time, and developed this series, casting Stevenson as a divorced radio talk show host who moves his two daughters to Portland in order to not only continue his career, but start a new life. Eldest daughter Ruthie was played by Kim Richards, who was making her return to TV (ex-Nanny & The Professor) after the "Witch Mountain" movies for Disney.

Today, Richards is better known as being related to heiress Paris Hilton and being part of one of Bravo's Real Housewives series. Quite a comedown from the 70's, eh?

Stevenson would land two more series in the 80's, including the series version of the hit film, "Dirty Dancing", but he couldn't shake the stigma of fate dealing him a bad hand. At the end of his career, he would make an annual pilgrimage to Albany to co-host the Cerebral Palsy telethon every winter.

Right now, let's take a look at the series opener:

NBC would try again with a sitcom about a radio talk show host, nearly 15 years after Hello, Larry ended. As Larry was linked by storyline to Diff'rent Strokes, Frasier not only was spun off from Cheers, but succeeded the latter series and thrived for a decade itself. Maybe Hello, Larry was ahead of its time.

No rating.


magicdog said...

I remember this show and it was harmless. I remember the crossover between this show and Different Strokes - I'm trying to remember if the appearance was a promotion of the existing show (to lure more viewers) or a backdoor pilot of sorts like the kids from Kimberly's boarding school making occasional appearances.

Stevenson seemed to be to TV as his cousin Adalai was to politics... he kept trying but kept losing in the end.

hobbyfan said...

Didn't know there was a familial connection. Thanks.